The Fool

The Fool

translated from Armenian by Donald Abcarian
London : Taderon Press, 2006,
236 pp.,
ISBN 1-903656-58-3, paperback,
UK£14.00 / US$22.00
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Set at the time of the Russo-Turkish war of 1877–78, The Fool provides invaluable glimpses into social conditions in western Armenia at the time. It portrays the development of an Armenian civil rights movement in Ottoman Turkey.

In the course of a romantic and hopeful novel, Raffi depicts in detail the way of life of Armenian peasants, their psychology, and the conditions under which they survived. He also portrays the central ideas that fuelled Armenian radical intellectuals of the day.

The Fool is an account of a heroic struggle to defend the ordinary people from the depredations and avarice of Ottoman authorities, neighboring peoples, and a corrupt Armenian establishment. It is the story of a revolutionary struggle to establish a just and civil society in Armenia.

The Fool is arguably the single most important work of literature dealing with the Armenian Question in Ottoman Turkey. Raffi depicts many of the actual figures and settings involved in the events of the time. The classical clarity and drama of its dialogue, the Armenian aphorisms that play such an important role throughout the story, the philosophical depth and moral passion embodied in it all make this novel a remarkable encounter with one of the greatest creative minds in modern Armenian history.

Donald Abcarian's new translation includes extensive notes and a glossary.

About the author
Raffi (né Hakob Melik-Hakobian) was born in 1835 in Bayajuk, near Salmas, in northwestern Persia. He died in Tiflis in 1888. He was a prolific and popular writer who contributed to Krikor Ardzrouni’s Tiflis-based liberal periodical, Mshak (Cultivator). Among his other principal works of fiction are Jalaleddin, Gharib Mshetsi (The exile from Moush), Khachagoghi Hishatakarane (The diary of a cross-stealer), Kaitzer (Sparks), Davit Bek, and Samuel.

About the Translator

Donald Abcarian was born and raised in Fresno, California, where his family was part of the extensive Armenian-American community that has settled there since the turn of the century. His earliest influences, including the Armenian language, derived from that milieu. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in philosophy, and has pursued a lifelong interest in languages and world literature.

Having studied several European languages over the years, Abcarian in 1996 took up the challenge of learning to decipher the written language of his ancestors. This translation is the culmination of that process.
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